Thursday, 30 May 2019

Smile. Well, Say Cheese...

As happened last year, our host on Patmos, κύρια Suzanna, kept us supplied with her delicious, home-made cheese. She has a χωράφι [smallholding], up near the village of Kampos, where she keeps goats and chickens, among other things, as well as growing vegetables.

Every morning she's up and out at 4.00am to go and tend to her vegetables and livestock. The cheese she makes from the milk of her own goats and it's delicious. When it came time for us to leave Patmos, just as last year she presented us with a brand new cheese to take home with us. She makes it in a mug-sized steel container with a convoluted surface, so that when it's set she can turn it out on to a plate and it looks like an off-white, mug-sized thingamybob that tapers toward the top, not unlike a mini-model of the mountain in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Once set it's very hard, and you can grate it. I suppose one could describe the container as a giant tea strainer type-thing. Only as well as holes it has a surface that gives the cheese a rippled surface when it comes out of the mold.

It was Suzanna who suggested that her cheese (it's very tangy) goes very well on a 'spag bol,' and so we grated it when we got home and we shall be very sorry when it runs out. But for now, we have it (what's left that is) in a glass container, from which we spooned liberal amounts on to our meal last night. Be prepared to lick your lips...

Incidentally, not wishing to preach or anything, but I challenge any carnivore not to find my wife's vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese entirely delicious.

C'mon chaps, every fella needs to score a few points now and then.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Back on the Block

I know I've already talked about the fact that we're back home, in fact we have been for over a week now, but I had a couple of shots that I hadn't posted, which I'd taken on board the Dodekanisos Pride during the voyage home, so here they are above. The first two were taken during our approach to the gorgeous Symi Harbour and the other one shows you how tantalising is the island chain that we live on. Looking at that map (on the wall inside the salon) as we travelled back, I couldn't help thinking that we still have a lot of work to do, including accepting an open invitation to visit some ex-pats on Tilos. Least I think it's still open. I could be wrong!

We'd only been home a few days when I received a phone call from an unknown local number. I answered the call to find that it was the very helpful man from the KEP office in Lardos, keeping true to his word that he'd call us when our Greek driving licences had arrived. And, wonder of wonders, they had. It had been the middle of February when, after an exasperating few weeks during which we'd had to compile a huge dossier of paperwork in order to transfer both of our licences from UK ones to Greek ones (see 1st photo in this post), we'd finally completed the process while sitting across the desk from this very chap in the Lardos KEP office.

Now, as promised, he'd called to tell us we just needed to drop by and sign for them, and our lovely new shiny Greek licences (all hi-tech with holograms and everything) would be in our hands. Look...

I know, my thumb conceals much of it. I'm not dumb enough to post all my driving licence info on line now, am I. But just look at all that clever hologram-type stuff reflecting in the light.

Last Friday morning we breezed by the KEP office, signed a form each, which our friendly, helpful civil servant had passed across the desk to us, and we were given our licences. They came in specially sealed bespoke envelopes too. It was almost like getting a present, we were so excited! I even almost want to be stopped by the boys in blue now, just so I can flash it!

Since coming home we've been trying to tidy up the garden (funny how weeds seem to deliberately wait until you go away, and then go "Hey chaps, let's get this party going!!" - isn't it?). Already the temperatures during the day are up into the mid-to-high 20's (that's the upper 70's to lower 80's to you poor folk across the pond who have yet to catch up with us modern, metric types over here in Europe), and it's starting to get too warm to do much during the middle of the day. As usual, despite the winter trying to hang on by its fingernails and returning to taunt us several times this spring, the weather seems to change like someone's thrown a switch some time during May and, without warning, we're panting and 'phew-ing' and reaching for those extremely un-cool hats that keep the sun off your nose and ears while out in the garden. Oh, and I've also dug out the factor 50 and begun slapping that on at every opportunity as well. The plus point is, we've already rigged up our hosepipe-shower on the side of the carport and enjoyed a few al fresco cooling sessions in the great outdoors, brill!

Yesterday I walked out into the garden at dawn, must have been around 6.00am, and it was wonderfully calm and peaceful. Already the swallows and swifts were swooping around in the sky taking their breakfast on the wing, not to mention gathering food to feed their chicks, some of which we've already been gazing at in their mud-nests on the building where they nest every year, as we walk past it down to the local beach for a swim. Plus there were bee-eaters, with their distinctive whirring call and pointed wing profile, doing something similar. 

Up the tree-and-shrub-studded hill to my right, though, I heard this cooing sound, primarily two notes of the same pitch repeated. It was not more than fifty metres away, I calculated. We've already seen a few hoopoes around this year, but hadn't heard them. Now I realised, that this was what I was listening to. You want to hear it as well? Click this link. You get visual, too, of these amazing birds. I love them. They're extremely timid of humans, and so not always easy to see from close quarters. Go on, take a look at that link and tell me you don't like hoopoes. [See this post from 2015 for some photos.]

It's taken us a week and more, but just yesterday morning, as we sat in the Gré Café down the road and sipped our freddo espressos after having been down for a morning swim, it finally began to sink in that we're no longer working. George came out to greet us, slapped us on our backs and declared that we were now 'touristes!'

For the past few years we haven't been able to go for a swim in the morning, since one or the other of us had to set the alarm and trundle off to work. Now, since I'm working for the Queen of England, who pays me to stay at home (dashed good of her, isn't it?), we're once more able to do so. It's something we've missed, because the sea's always at its calmest from dawn until around midday, when the sea breezes come up and make the surface become 'corrugated,' as it were. When there are three inch waves (more like ripples, really) coming on-shore, my wife always declares that's it's 'too choppy' to enjoy a swim.

Thus begins the first summer that we can truly anticipate as going to be enjoyable for over a decade. It's almost unbelievable to me that, come August, we'll have been living here 14 years. I wonder what the next 14 will bring.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

A Patmos Postscript

Early evening at the Tsipouradiko Mas restaurant, which has the archetypal location for a Greek meal. This was taken at sundown, and that dish is the legendary Rocket and Parmesan salad that they do there. Accompanying that (not shown) was the truly superb Fava purée with octopus in caramelised sauce. The two dishes together are more than enough to fill you up (especially when you factor in their delicious wholemeal bread) and they comprise a truly legendary feast for the tastebuds.

Well, we came home on Saturday, after seventeen days on Patmos. It was our second visit in as many years and it looks like we've found our 'bolt-hole," as it were. I take nothing for granted though, since we both of us count ourselves truly blessed that we come home to a hillside on Rhodes, with a gorgeous view down the valley to the sea, and we don't have to go to an airport and fly back to colder climes.

Don't get me wrong, there are things about the country of our birth that we truly love, and even some things that we miss, but it has to be said that to live where we now have for nigh on 14 years is a privilege we don't ever fail to appreciate.

Patmos has it all for us. When I say that, what I'm referring to is those things that we always looked for in a Greek holiday, back in the days when a holiday in Greece meant going there for a couple of weeks or so, but then returning to the UK to get on with our 'normal' lives. Since moving out here our lives have borne very little resemblance to what had been the 'normal life' back in the UK, yet everyday life is still everyday life as it always was in many respects, so it's still nice to have a change of scenery now and then. I've often said that in more recent years my wanderlust has faded somewhat, since the kind of life we now live and the environment in which we live it is the stuff of many peoples' dreams, and that is not lost on us. But when I think back to my earliest holidays in Greece, which began in 1977, I always looked for a number of things to make the holiday complete.

You've probably got a list of your own, but here are a few things that make Patmos just right for us...

1. The perfect place to stay. A small apartment, set amongst residential properties, with a wonderful view. The place is run by a lovely, welcoming lady in the shape of Suzanna, who's kindness and helpfulness itself, without being in your face.
2. A bakery within five minutes walk from our front door. 
3. A waterside walk that allows us to both work up an appetite and to walk off the meal afterwards when we go out to eat in the evening.
4. Friendly local people.
5. Just enough life to give the place 'soul,' without it being overrun by tourists.
6. Excellent primarily traditional local restaurants and bars, with prices that are very acceptable.
7. The size of the island, plus the location of our accommodation mean that we don't need to hire a vehicle. walking is a truly beneficial pastime, not to mention extremely de-stressing and good for the health and wellbeing. Oh, and there is a modest local bus service anyway.

There are probably a few more parameters I could add to that list, but Patmos could almost have been designed for us when we muse over what we look for when going somewhere purely for some serious R&R. And we can get there on one boat all the way.

Thus, here we are, home again and already thinking about our next visit. Having the same apartment each time we go is almost the same (but a good deal cheaper!) as owning your own holiday 'gaff,' only without the responsibilities that go with it. Let's face it, a lot of people who own holiday homes or apartments don't spend more than a few weeks each year occupying them anyway, the rest of the time leaving them empty, or letting them to strangers. What's the difference then? We now have a wonderful, comfy, modest apartment that we can use whenever we like, and it's great!

Anyway, I decided to now post a bunch of photos from our last few days on Patmos this time around, most of which have short descriptions to accompany them. Hope you like them. They're not in any particular order, so some of the same scene may be separated by others. Here goes...

This is the beach where sits the Kyma restaurant/bar. That's it at the far end of the tiny bay. Sadly, looks like it's not opening this year. It's just along a lane from Meloi beach.

The puddy tat greeted us from his favourite chair each morning, hoping for a little something from us. It was all cupboard love, but he did enjoy a bit of petting too. His left eye, when we looked closely, had an iris that was fogged-over, so I guess you'd say - since he's a cat - that he has a 'humanaract.' That may be an indicator as to how old he is, although in all other respects he is in good shape and is well looked after.

The actual seaside terrace of the former Kyma restaurant/bar. Imagine, in the UK they'd have been closed down anyway until they fitted cast iron railings all along that quayside for 'health and safety.' The harbour area and Skala village are the other side of that hill in the background.

Street scene in the thick of the old village up behind the seafront, harbour and village square.

Who's that woman? She keep following me around.

More from the backstreets.

A female sparrow taking advantage of the leftovers from the table's previous occupants. "Hmm, I think I'll have that one..."

The tables on the beach at the Tsipouradiko Mas. This was taken from our table in the restaurant itself, just across the road.
Just minutes earlier than the one above it.

I'm being stalked...

The main square, from the Petrino Bar. Closing time for the shops as the people begin to thin out for the night.

The Kyma from behind, taken from a rather lovely block of holiday studios that do look as though they may be open for business later in the season. the gardener needs to get a move on, though.

The sadly neglected WC's at the Kyma. I rather like the rusty stains that make it look like the occupants of the two small plaques, demarcating which loo is which, have had unfortunate accidents.

Oh, and another backstreet in Skala.

As above!

The front right across the road from the legendary Ston Afro, where the chef is my old mate Manolis. I suppose one could call this the 'town beach.'

Harbour scene as glimpsed from a gap in the buildings when one wanders around in the upper area of Skala.

As you'll know if you've read any of my other recent posts, me and the better half have now given up working during the season. This will hopefully mean that we can get out and about a little more often this summer. That should result me me being able to post a few more photos of places here on Rhodes that I haven't previously shown here on RFR. Maybe I'll add some more tavernas and bars to the "Play, Eat, Visit" page too.

Ah well, holiday over, back to the grindstone. Mind you, my grindstone doesn't weigh much these days!

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Hijinks and a Hearty Lunch

It's always fun finding an occasion to take the bus on a small island. We've had some of our best times on island buses, because they very often don't just carry your regular 'passenger', but have to double up as handy transport for livestock, supplies, and the occasional postman, to name but a few other uses to which an island bus can be - and very often is - put.

For a few examples of how much fun a bus ride may be on a Greek island (and I'm sure lots of people reading this will already know of such joys), check out this post and this one too from our visit to Naxos in 2014. Also, if you've read my fourth "Ramblings From Rhodes" book "A Plethora of Posts", you may remember our Symi bus trip described in chapter 24, imaginatively entitled "Taking the Bus." Sometimes you can't improve on the original, that's my excuse. This video might tickle your fancy too, as may this blog about it.

Anyway (which is fast becoming one of my favourite words, it seems. Still, anything's better than following that annoying current trend that everyone in the UK seems to have at the moment of starting every sentence with the word 'so'). So, anyway (Aaaargh!) we decided that, after seeing those rather ideal taverna tables laid out under the plane trees on the beach at Kampos last week (see the post "Out and About'), we simply had to go back up there and have lunch. It was simply too picturesque (I refuse to use the word idyllic, all right?) for us to miss such an opportunity. 

Last time we went, we walked it. It may look like a grueller, but it's only forty-five minutes or so from Netia, where we're staying, through some pretty spectacular scenery. This time, however, we thought we'd take the bus, since it only takes about ten minutes to get from where we are to the beach at Kampos. The bus leaves the square beside the port at Skala at 12.30pm, passing the bus stop immediately below our rooms at 12.35, and gets to Kampos Beach at 12.45pm. Doing it this way we could have a coffee in the bar at the end of the beach, walk back to Taverna "Ta Kabourakia" for lunch and then, after having eaten, stroll back to Netia mid-afternoon at our leisure. 

The bus fare is a princely €1.50, and thus we got our small change ready and arrived at the bus stop, just across the road from the boatyard, five minutes early. We got there just in time, in fact, to be able to watch the bus as it drove along the front towards us from Skala, bang on time, too.

Some of the island buses we've taken are actually minibuses, but this one's a full-sized, quite modern one with rather cushy bucket seats. As it approached us and indicated to turn into our road, which is the road that leads all the way to Kampos, my better half said, 

"That driver doesn't half look like Theologos from the Petrino Café-Bar."

Now, there are three regular chaps who serve us at the Petrino, the bar in the square at Skala where all the locals hang out (largely because it's the only one that stays open all winter too), and they are Dimitris, Andreas and Theologos, all of whom have got to know us pretty well by now (There are quite a few photos taken at the Petrino from last year in the post "Patmos People" BTW). They change shifts every few days or so, so that none of them has to work evenings every day for the entire season. Theologos is often to be seen parading the square pushing his baby-buggy during the mornings when he's not on shift, as it were, because his wife is then at work and he's looking after their eighteen-month old cutie. 

Sure enough, as the bus approached the stop to pull up for us to climb aboard, the driver tooted and waved as, not only was it indeed our friend Theo from the bar, but he'd spotted us waiting there too. When you think about it, on an island with only 3,000 inhabitants (that's less than the population of Arhangelos on Rhodes), it's not surprising that they probably can't afford to employ a full time bus driver, and thus a few locals share these duties between them. I well remember my friend Zois, who runs the Babis Taverna on the front at Halki, who also drove the local bus much of the time. After all, it only involved the occasional trip from the waterfront, up past Potamos Beach and then up the mountain, past the abandoned village and on up to a little old church at the top, then back again. Maybe he'd do this two or three times in a day. So it oughtn't to have surprised us that the bus driver was someone we'd already met. 

As we got on, my wife said "Are you sure you've got a licence to drive this thing?"

Of course, Theo treated this remark as hilarious and, as we proffered our fares, told us to worry about those later.

On board the bus, which seats probably fifty, was a mere handful of people. There were a couple of German and French tourists and one or two local 'seniors.' The only bus stop to speak of, after we got on, is at the square at Kampos where we'd been for a coffee a few days earlier, at the delightful Aroma café. When we stopped there, two girls of school age got on, apparently going to the end of the route, which is not much further up the lane from the beach where we were to get off.

Once we'd got off and suggested that Theo might also be the island's Doctor, or perhaps estate agent, which raised a chuckle from him as he said "See you tonight!", we made our way to the end of the beach to have a coffee at George's Bar.

Nothing personal intended, but although the location of this bar is rather nice, we weren't all that impressed with it. Maybe it was because we thought the prices just a tad 'captive audience' infected, or perhaps the staff were not as friendly as we've been used to, I don't know. Plus, all the clientele, such as it was, was composed of foreigners, like ourselves I have to admit. Never mind, we passed a pleasant enough half an hour or so over some nice, if rather strong frappés, paid up and set off along the beach for the taverna for lunch.

Whilst it's completely understandable that the government wants to ensure that all businesses pay their taxes, there are (as all Hellenophiles will know) some old ways that those of us who've been coming here for decades are ruing the loss of. One of these, I'm happy to say, is still alive and well at Kampos Beach. Now, let me say at the outset, before any taxmen reading this get the wrong idea, when we asked for our bill, it came, as it ought, on a printed receipt, OK? Good, that's got that out of the way. But I remember the days when you'd go into a traditional taverna and there would be no menu, the proprietor would simply either invite you into the kitchen, or list verbally what's on that particular day. 

We got ourselves comfy in the simply superb setting of the beach tables...

The lovely old frontage of the building, across the narrow road from the beach, where we planted ourselves.
Not long after we'd made ourselves comfortable, out came the portly proprietor, a plump man with a jolly double chin and teeth that wouldn't have won any prizes in the 'best aligned set of teeth' championships. One or two I remember had actually gone off into retirement too. As he laid the paper table cloth and secured it with those ubiquitous metal clips, to stop the breeze from taking it away, we asked if he could give us the menus.

"Um, no. Don't have menus." He replied, but continued, "But here's what's on today..." And then proceeded to list what was indeed, 'on.' The only problem with this system is the diners being able to remember what he describes. We were aided, of course, by the fact that, once, as he took a breath, we were able to interject that we didn't eat meat, the list could be shortened somewhat. To be honest, we only wanted something light anyway, since we were still planning to eat out that evening. The important thing to us was the occasion and the environs (I know, that's two things really. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition). So, after having settled on a green salad, a plate of gigantes and a portion of chips (see this post!!), plus a large bottle of water, he went off to prepare our order and we settled into our chairs to admire the view. We did, however, both remark on how nice it was to find a place where they still do things the old way.

We hadn't been there more than five minutes, when four young Greek lads turned up on two scooters, flipped them on to their stands and rough-and-tumbled over to join us at the beach tables. They were joking about and, as they approached and selected the table next to ours, said to us:

"Sorry, are we ruining your peace and quiet?" 

They were all wearing posh sunglasses and touting iPhones, but were sporting very short hair and - amazingly - no beards. We found out the reason for this within a few minutes of their arrival. We answered that no they were not spoiling anything, but in fact were very welcome to sit nearby. So the conversation ensued in which they told us they were conscripts doing their National Service and had been given a couple of days off. They were based on Kos and had taken the boat to Patmos for 48 hours or so. 

As they set about a heated discussion with the proprietor over what they were going to order, we remarked on the difference between lads like these and the majority of their peers back in the UK. Now, I don't want to upset anyone, no offence is intended, but we do rather believe that the youth here in Greece are of a completely different disposition to most of those in the UK. OK, I am generalising somewhat I know, but we were quite sure that, had this been a comparable situation in the UK then they'd have a) set about drinking a darned sight more than these boys did, and, more importantly b) been a lot less happy-go-lucky and respectful toward us. 

In fact, as they were horsing around taking photos with their phones, I asked them if they'd take my iPad and take a shot of us, with the sea in the background. They had us in stitches as they decided who'd be best qualified to take the photo, and the results are below...

The above shot was a selfie that the one who took our photos decided he needed to add to the collection. One of the other lads is behind him and the other two are this side of the camera, aping him as he does the shot. I think it shows from the expression on my face (at least in the first two!) how much fun we were having with these chaps.

And this was our lunch. Modest, but just perfect to keep one going until the evening. The chips were hand-cut and lovely and light, and the gigantes were excellent. The spring onion in the salad added just the right amount of zing to it too. That's the 4 lads' table in the background.
Once we'd all settled down to the serious business of eating, things quietened down a little. When the time came for me to ask for our bill, the owner's wife told us to hang around while she prepared a little something for us. It turned out to be some chopped honeydew melon (the first we'd had this season), on the house, of course.

It was around 3.00pm when we set out for home, taking this photo as we reached the end of the beach and turned up the hill toward the village of Kampos...

On the way back, you pass a spectacular view of Agriolivadi beach...

We were about two thirds of the way home, just walking down the hill past the military camp, when a couple of scooters hared past us, horns tooting and hands waving maniacally. It was the boys from the next-door table back at the beach, making sure we knew that we'd been spotted as they headed back to Skala themselves.

Quite frankly, far from ruining the peace of our beachside lunch, they'd quite made our day.

Once we got home, there was our resident sentinel on duty outside the door to welcome us back...

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Two Return Visits, one of Which was a Success

We decided to give Hora another go the other day. Last year we went up there and found it to be like a ghost town, with scarcely a soul about. It was as if the whole village was a museum, which was closed.

This year we made the ascent using the more well-trodden path that cuts across the zigzags of the road, making the distance not more than a kilometre or so. It's about twenty to twenty five minutes going up, because it is really steep at times, but only fifteen minutes or so coming down. That's starting from and returning to the main square in Skala.

Going up...

...and up.

The reason we were given for the place being bereft of life last year was that we were just a week or so too early. Had we waited around another seven days, the season would be under way. This year we're here a full two weeks later, and so expected that we could go up there, find a nice little square with a café/bar that was actually open, and enjoy the environs. Guess what, same again.

At least there are some stunning views from up there.

Where's Patrick McGoohan when you need him? (Only people of a certain age will understand that).

At least the views make the climb worthwhile.

Cooey! Anyone home?

Well, I say 'same again,' but there was one small difference. A café-restaurant, quite near to where the path arrives at the top, was open, with a handful of customers sitting there admiring the view. We even walked into the village a little way, like we dd last year, and met a local chap carrying a ladder, who told us (much as we'd heard last year): "Well, no one's about until the summer, you see."

In the first square we came across, we passed the local "Dimos," or municipality office ("Council Office," we'd call it in the UK). Peering in through the door we saw a young woman sitting at a desk, but not another soul about either inside or out. Cushy number she's got, I reckon.

Once we'd arrived safely back in the square and parked ourselves in the Petrino Bar and ordered a couple of drinks from our friend Dimitri, we asked him again, "What is it with Hora, then? Why's it so bereft? Is it maybe that they don't want people going up there, is that it?"

His reply was interesting. He said, among other things, that a lot of foreign ex-pats have bought properties up there, the ones with the serious money. They had to be pretty well off, he said, because to renovate a property in Hora costs much more than anywhere else. This is so for several reasons, among which are that there are very strict regulations about keeping the buildings looking right, so that they are in keeping with the traditional feel of the place. This we could understand, of course. It makes perfect sense. Another reason, Dimitris said, was that to get building work done in the thick of the village was a logistical nightmare, owing to the fact that you can't get a truck, not even a pick-up anywhere near the property you're working on. Imagine mixing concrete, even getting building supplies into the village for the work to be carried out. Fair enough, that made sense too. But it meant that not many locals, who simply aren't 'rich enough' could afford to renovate a property in the village of Hora any more.

The final answer we received was much as last year too. "Go up there in the evenings. That's when it comes to life."

Frankly, to us it's not worth the risk. When you walk around the place, yes it's photogenic, but there are little information signs tacked onto the corners of buildings, much as you'd see in Lindos on Rhodes, for example. These would, you'd expect, point you to a bar or restaurant, even a store selling tasteful souvenirs maybe, but the only signs we saw, and there weren't many anyway, were primarily of a religious nature. This way to that church, that way to this one, this way to the monastery, that sort of thing.

Now, arguably, Lindos is much too frantic these days during the summer season, even too overrun with souvenir shops whose wares brush you in the face as you try to walk past. Maybe it is a trial attempting to walk through the village in the summer, owing to the sheer crush of bodies. But Hora is the other extreme, and it has the feel to us of a make-believe place, not somewhere real. The 'soul' of the place is missing, at least at this time of year. Down in the bay area however, in Skala, where the boats come in, and Netia where we're staying, it's vibrant without being overwhelming. 

I'm sure there will be some 'intellectual' types who'll call us Philistines, but we prefer to be where there are at least some people when we sit down for a coffee. It's about feeling the pulse of a community I suppose. Seeing the same faces going about their everyday affairs of life is educational, uplifting, yes - interesting. 

Anyway, each to his or her own I suppose, but Hora, whilst undeniably beautiful architecturally, has for me very little soul. Maybe we'll just have to come here in July or August some time, see if we feel differently then. Although one or two locals have told is that it's likely to be (from their descriptions) more like Lindos then anyway. Sometimes you just can't win.

We've paid our second (and it won't be our last) visit to the Ston Afro restaurant. This time we ordered the Brocolli Salad, which looked so wonderful when it arrived that it was a shame to eat it, although we most certainly did that. Happily for me, Nikos the waiter told us that the fassolakia was on that evening too. Manolis must have told him about me from the old Odyssey days, because I always raved about Manos' fassolakia, which is quite simply the best I've ever eaten. Manolis puts bite-sized chunks of potato into his too. It was, as you're bound to have guessed by now, superb. We also made sure we ate some more of chef Manoli's delicious bread, plus my wife asked for a dish of that celery-root purée that Manos (short for Manolis, sorry if you already knew that!) often dresses other dishes with (such as the swordfish which I ordered the first time we ate there). As before too, they brought us a delicious selection of dips to get us started before the main dishes arrived. We also sampled yet another of Manoli's wines, this time made from a white Cabernet Sauvignon grape. It was even better than the Muscat one, which was hard to imagine beforehand. There's a short video of the Ston Afro's opening night on my "Published Works" Facebook page, if you'd like to go have a look.

And, finally, some more photos taken over the past few days....

Upcycling is an art in a Greek village.

The Ostria Taverna on a quiet night. They still gave us a free 2nd bottle of Retsina and a free dessert. Yes, it's not only the Ston Afro we like, although it is probably the most unique.

I tried to get some fishes in this one, but I don't know if I succeeded. Who cares though? It's a nice shot.

This little beach is just a hundred metres behind our rooms, but on the West side of the island, so it's windier than our side. Nice when it's calm though, eh?

Coming into Skala along the waterfront from Netia, where we're staying. This is only metres past the Ston Afro.

Another attempt at an arty one, with maybe fishes (They're very rare, the maybe fish).

A delightful garden, and if you look closely, there's a woman busy prepping her veg for today's meal in the centre of the shot.

This, my friends, is the 'Green Salad" at the "Souvlakia tou Pappou" joint. That's Manouri cheese on the top. The sauce is almost a kind of sweet'n'sour, and is delicious. The pittas come complimentary when you order the salad.

A view through the alley to the excellent Pantelis Taverna, which is down-home traditional and very good value.

The weather's warming up now too, finally. So we'll probably be eating lunch on that beach at Kampos tomorrow (see photos in the post "Out and About"). Of course, I shall take piccies if we do!